The Struggles of Working with a Mental Illness

For many people who live with mental illness, it is hard to hold down a job or find one you are even remotely comfortable with pursuing, simply because the complications and challenges a mental illness can have. This may include inability to get certain jobs or do certain tasks, not being able to keep those jobs, or needing accommodations such as extra time off for doctor appointments. Even with an increase in awareness, it can still be a difficult process to navigate. A person with mental illness may not know how to ask for help or may not feel comfortable with disclosing their medical situation to their employer for fear of discrimination. If they do inform their employer, they may not take you seriously or understand how your illness affects you and your work. Many people don’t even get that far, because the thought of applying for a job that you may not be able to keep can be a frightening and overwhelming task. I know from personal experience how daunting that can be.

While I’d argue that the inability to work is one of the most overlooked topics when it comes to mental health awareness, it can also be perhaps one of the most devastating ones to deal with and the hardest to talk about. It can cause a person who struggles with it to have a shady work history (making it harder to find a job), low self-esteem, feelings of isolation, and financial issues (like not having enough money to pay bills).

According to these articles by the Evening Standard and The Atlantic, science backs up the idea that not working is actually working against your health. When you’re not working because of your health, the negative effects probably worsen. If you’re not “healthy” to begin with, it’s harder to fight off any illnesses or symptoms to come. But it’s a “catch 22”. If your health gets worse when you work and when you don’t work, what can you do?

Many people resort to government assistance in order to survive, such as receiving disability payments or help with paying for housing. Of course, it can be a difficult process to tangle with as there is often an initial denial, followed by an appeals process if the person chooses to pursue it further. A lot of “red tape” can get in the way and make the issues you face progressively worse as time goes on. If you do eventually receive benefits of any kind, it is usually still a struggle to make ends meet, despite programs that are supposedly designed to cover most expenses if you meet their participation criteria.

Many people do not wish to pursue this process due to these reasons, or because they simply don’t want to give up working and being financially independent. That’s fine, but that leaves sufferers to be forced to attempt to work when perhaps they may or may not be able to do so without assistance or problems occurring. As one woman explains it, working with a mental illness is no walk in the park, and it can be a struggle to decide whether to disclose to potential or current employers her condition and the accommodations she needs. As someone with anxiety, I know making that decision is not an easy one.

Personally, I only recall telling one of my previous employers about my depression and anxiety. I decided to do this after he was open about his own issues, so I believed he could understand and find ways to help me. While he did try, the attempts fell flat and ultimately, he didn’t truly understand how bad my condition had gotten by that point. That job ended with me putting in my two-weeks notice, and then not being able to finish them out when I had a breakdown in the parking lot when I was supposed to go in for one of my last shifts. I was frozen with fear and panic. I’m not proud of that moment, but luckily I have been getting help since then while I wasn’t able to before. There were many factors in my life that contributed to that day, but thankfully my life and mental state are in better standing now, and I work hard to keep it that way.

Speaking of disability benefits, The Mighty (a health-topic support website) asked their audience the difficulties of applying for help, to which many people had plenty to say about the process. Meanwhile, I came across an article that states that not working may actually be a good thing (or what to do if you don’t work), and another one that says you need both work and play. In fact, the idea of “play” is so important that the psychology of play was one of my required classes in college. But with all of these conflicting theories of the “do work, don’t work” conundrum, what should you do?

While I don’t claim to know the answers, I will say this: do what you think works for you. Each and every person is different, and so is their situation. Sometimes, at one time it may be better to stay home, and later it may be better to work. Situations change, but don’t ever push yourself past your limit. Don’t be afraid to try if you think there’s a chance you can handle it, but if you begin to fall, reach out for help. There are support groups if you cannot see a doctor. Confide in a friend, family member, coworker or employer if you feel comfortable. But most of all, don’t give up on finding happiness. What doesn’t work today may be the thing that makes you successful down the road. Like the Disney movie “Meet The Robinsons’,” just Keep Moving Forward until you get where you’re going, and then keep going some more. Good luck in those pursuits, my peers.

-Courtney.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate. Get help. If you’d like crisis or suicide (both emergency and non-emergency) helpline information, my blog post about suicide and medications has resources. You are not alone. Thank you for reading, sincerely, and don’t forget to share. Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest (info at the bottom) @IndieBrainer. Let’s have a conversation.

Note: When looking for images for this post, I Googled “working disabled”, and I kid you not, almost every single image on the first page was of a person in a wheelchair. If this doesn’t tell you about stigma in the mental health world, then I don’t know what will, considering there are more people on disability is the U.S. for an “invisible illness” than any other type of disability. Maybe I’ll gather the full data on it and make a post about it, but it is startling to see this. “Disabled” does not mean physically crippled in all cases, yet this is what shows up as representation. Yikes. We have a long way to go.

Advertisements

Battling Myself for Love and Acceptance

In my (almost) 23 years of life, I have done a lot based on what I perceived as “publicly acceptable” in whatever environment I was in. I have hidden who I truly am to the point that I even deluded myself. I have pretended to be okay with things I certainly wasn’t comfortable with. I have rejected myself time and time again because I didn’t think I was worthy of acceptance because I didn’t fit in with the criteria that I believed was considered by others to be normal or good. This especially impacts my self-esteem, even to this day. I bring this up because I know this is something many people struggle with, and it contributes to other issues within their lives as well, such as developing depression, self-harming, or developing an eating disorder.

If you’ve never truly struggled with low self-esteem on a daily basis, then I assume you don’t exist (just kidding), but here’s what it looks like:

I wake up and get on with my morning routine. I go to the bathroom, but I avoid looking at myself in the mirror as I’m getting ready. When I eventually have to look, let’s say to fix my hair or something, I immediately notice everything that I dislike about myself. My frizzy, unmanageable hair. My freckles that I’ve been bullied about since I can remember; that I’ve tried to learn to love over the years but still sometimes can’t. My crooked teeth because I never got braces. It’s the reason I don’t smile with my mouth open in pictures, and I cringe internally every time someone tries to make me do just that, (which they usually do very publicly). My eyebrows, that I can never get quite right and was also badly teased about them growing up. My eyelashes, that used to be one of my best features now have diminished to thin, barely-there attractions due to over-rubbing when I cried. When I go out with makeup on, I feel a little better, but I also feel like a fraud. Did I over-do it with my eyeshadow? My mascara? Someone once told me that I looked like I was feeling better than I had been before, but they didn’t realize that was the first time I bothered wearing makeup in front of them. The compliment meant well, but it backfired without her knowledge.

When I confide with my significant other about my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to my appearance, he does what any good boyfriend would do and tries to reassure me that I look fine and that he likes all my little quirks, but ultimately it doesn’t make a difference in my opinion. I’m like a garden. You can rain sunshine down on me, but if I’m covered with a tarp of disbelief, then I will not grow and flourish.

I have pictures that I’ve modeled for that make me look like I’m beautiful and that I’m trying to make a career out of my looks, but when you have these long-internalized feelings, almost nothing can make you believe what lies outside. It causes me to be sheepish and meek on a daily basis, and believe people when they are bold enough to tell me I’m ugly to my face (and they have). I didn’t quite realize how bad it was until one boy in elementary school actually stood up for me, but by then I had already internalized so much that without professional intervention, I was only going to get worse. Middle school didn’t make things better whatsoever, and when I did try to speak up, I didn’t know how to vocalize my emotions. What little help I did receive on the matter (one session with a school counselor), she simply told me to ignore all the bullies, pretending they didn’t exist and that I was a princess with my own little desk-castle, and they couldn’t break my imaginary border walls. Yeah, okay. Twelve-year-old me learned to shut up about my problems real quick after that.

Today, at 22, I try my best to overcome these issues and remind myself that everyone has flaws, and mine don’t disqualify me from love, both from others and from myself. It’s a hard thing to accept, but I work at it everyday, and I’m trying to learn to be more open about my struggles. When I was in high school, I had a mirror in my room that I would use every day while getting ready for school. It was your typical, long and tall vertical mirror. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I discovered the power of putting up positive messages for myself to read each day. At first, they began as little sticky notes with quotes I found online or heard elsewhere. Things like “The only ‘B’-word a girl should be called is Beautiful”, or something as simple as “You’re worth it”. It sounds cheesy now, but they played a role in my self-esteem. Extracurricular activities and friendships and relationships aided this, but when I looked into that mirror every morning, I felt good about myself for a change.

Eventually, (and I don’t remember how I uncovered this, but), I realized that I could use dry-erase markers to write messages directly on the mirror itself. I spent many hours drawing cute doodles, writing meaningful song lyrics, and adding more quotes in various colors to my mirror. I’d design it, and then re-design it over and over again until my heart was content. Perhaps I’ll get another mirror like it and start it up again, once my living situation spares room for it. I guess if you see positive things, you begin to believe them after a while (and with a lot of effort).

Part of my problem, I will acknowledge, is that back then I spent a significant amount of time on my appearance, as most high school girls do. I cut and dyed my hair somewhat-often. I made time for makeup and listened to music while doing so. I was more social, and picked up little tips here and there from seeing them or being told about them. Nowadays, I’ll lucky to get an un-interrupted shower, but that’s motherhood. I have more things to worry about than getting to school on time and whether I was grounded or not. Though, my teenage years were not easy by any means, no matter how much I may occasionally downplay them. It’s just that I was often left without a phone or way to contact people (by the choice of my parent) so I had to spend the time finding other things to do, and I guess that was one of my hobbies.

Yesterday, I decided to update the dry-erase whiteboard I have hanging in my room. It was the first time in a long time (longer than six months) that I have done that. I chose to write to phrases on there to encourage me: “Be confident” (my new year’s resolution) and “Do Something That Makes You Feel Pretty”. I don’t do enough self-care when it comes to beautifying myself, and when I do get around to it, I feel better afterwards. My grandmother took me to a salon to get my hair and nails done this past Christmas, and despite my inner protests of “not needing it”, I really enjoyed how I felt afterwards. It’s a hard personal lesson in self-care I suppose, but one I should take into consideration more often. I feel better and more confident when I enjoy how I look, and if I can’t naturally feel that way, then giving myself a helpful boost is okay. At least it can help me find beauty in myself again until I can do it without all the makeup, the hair dye, and the shiny nails. One step at a time. To take a quote from my mom:

“Makeup isn’t about covering yourself up, but enhancing the beauty you already have”.

A note I wrote to myself in 2012. You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

I’ll leave you all with this: Negative self talk: 3 simple steps to let go of self-doubt. It’s a good first start to better self-esteem and self confidence. The article focuses on acknowledging your bad habits in this arena and how to take control of the situation. Another good tip is something my therapist taught me: When you have a bad or negative thought (about yourself), try to replace it with two positive ones. If you do this enough, in theory, you’ll train yourself to think more positively from the get-go. I’m still figuring this one out myself, but it’s worth passing on the information. Training your brain is more powerful a weapon than we may ever realize, so give it a go. Good luck, and you are an amazing person deserving of love; don’t forget that.

-Courtney.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate. Get help. If you’d like crisis or suicide (both emergency and non-emergency) helpline information, my blog post about suicide and medications has resources. You are not alone. Thank you for reading, sincerely, and don’t forget to share. Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest (info at the bottom) @IndieBrainer. Let’s have a conversation.

Awaiting Diagnosis

This is another post that is less fact-heavy, and more of me droning on about my life. I hope that’s okay, because sometimes that’s easier to get my thoughts out (however chaotic they may be) than trying to focus on researching information. My next post should be more educational, so please hang tight.

Tonight, I’ll be discussing something that clutters my mind quite a lot: not having a full diagnosis.

While it’s been a few years since I’ve heard the terms “Major Depressive Disorder” and “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” when a psychiatrist described me, that’s not all that’s wrong. Whether I’ve had quiet stirrings all along, or I’ve recently developed more conditions since my last full evaluation, I’m not sure. I know my anger is new, for example. Sometimes I struggle to control it. It might have started during my pregnancy, or it might be completely postpartum. Hormones run wild during pregnancy, so it’s hard to tell. Plus, I didn’t exactly have the smoothest of situations at the time.

Speaking of postpartum, my depression worsened during the first few months after birth. Being a new mother is hard, and living with depression is hard, but this was like a wave on uncontrollable emotions hitting me with the force of a cat. 5 hurricane. Nothing can prepare you for that, and it seemed like nothing could slow it down as well. I was already on anti-depressant medications at the time and I tried to prepare for the worst, but it wasn’t enough. No one told me that within two or so days after birth your hormones suddenly do something that I refer to as “the flip”. Suddenly, you’re crying more than your newborn with all the responsibilities of a new mom, and the learning curve doesn’t care about your inexperience. You’re are also recovering from what probably was a traumatic experience, with heavy physical demand no matter how it happened. Even for someone like me, (who wasn’t even conscious during my son’s birth), I still had a difficult process. Of course, that’s a story for another time.

Anyways, back on topic.

Not having answers to “What’s wrong with me?” can not only be frustrating, but it’s also confusing. You start to believe that maybe you’re disillusioning yourself, imagining symptoms that you’ve read somewhere online while trying to figure out what’s happening to you. You question if you’re becoming a hypochondriac, or that people aren’t taking you seriously enough. Doubt spreads, but then your symptoms flair again and suddenly you’re so sure that something is happening, but you still don’t understand what. People may be sympathetic to you, or they might be tired of you talking their ears off with theories and research. When you finally get to see a doctor, they have to get to know you and it takes time to evaluate you before coming to any conclusions, which is usually a long process. I have a million thoughts in my mind, including theories and the whole “I match 8 out of 9 of the qualifying symptoms of this disorder when you only need 5”, but when I sit in front of Mr. or Mrs. PhD, I can’t remember anything I’m supposed to say.

AnIf you’re like me, you might feel like you are under-diagnosed with multiple things, not just one disorder. That can be all the more confusing. Essentially, if you do have these things, you’re learning what it means to have two or more unfamiliar disorders at the same time. You have to try to figure out “Is this symptom from this disorder, or that one?”. It could be both. Sometimes, the trigger is the key. If something made me upset, it’s disorder A, but if nothing caused it, it could be disorder B, or the disorder I’m already diagnosed with and familiar of. It’s a science, but maybe not an exact one, and I’m not a trained scientist. I just science on the weekends.

Thank you again for listening to me babble on about random things. I know I can’t be the only one who suffers from not knowing what’s going on. It’s like I’m zoomed into a picture, and I have to slowly take steps backwards before I can see the entire piece. Until then, I must be patient. If you or someone you know is struggling, please get help. Soon I’ll be tackling what to do if you cannot get help, so stay tuned. Thank you!

-Courtney.

What It’s Like to Come Off of Your Medication (Unplanned)

I wanted to write about Traumatic Brain Injuries since March was “Brain Injury Awareness Month”, but for the life of me I couldn’t concentrate long enough to research the topic. Why is that? I ran out of my antidepressant medication this week.

If you battle a mental illness that requires medicine in order for you to behave like a functioning member of society, it can be devastating to lose that medicine, even temporarily.

Before I ran out of my medicine, I was making unusually good progress with my overall mood and productivity. My motivation wasn’t its normal slumped self, so I felt almost on top of the world. Of course, this could be partially due to a potentially undiagnosed bipolar disorder (I’m currently working with a few doctors to get a more full, more updated diagnosis). But then, due to health insurance lapse issues and unexpected doctor appointment re-scheduling, I ran out of my “happy pill” a few days ago.

I’ve been on at least one antidepressant for a majority of a year (this time around), and unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve gone cold turkey. If fact, the worst depressive episode I’ve ever experienced was in wake of running out of health insurance, and subsequently my medication as well. I can’t even recall how long I went without any help, but it was probably around a year. And it was an absolutely miserable year. It was the year I dropped out of college, and almost committed suicide. It was the year I spent doing absolutely nothing, because I simply couldn’t make myself move. I wasn’t even able to do simple tasks such as sweeping the kitchen floor without getting completely overwhelmed. Just the thought of it put me in tears, literally. That’s the power of Major Depressive Disorder, or as my most recent diagnosis states, Recurrent Depression, which, from what I understand, is even more long term than regular MDD. That year broke me more than any other pain I’ve felt in my life (which is really saying something), and it was all in my head.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 150922-F-DB561-001.JPG

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800)273-8255

This time around, I’ve been on an antidepressant that was helping me function to an extent, but I still had more bad or mixed days than I should have. Of course, if I were to skip a day by accident, then the following day would be pretty rough for me, so I know it’s still a necessary medication for me.

Depression affects your ability to regulate your mood, it affects your concentration, and it affects your ability to feel enjoyment in things, to name a few symptoms. Typically, my lack of motivation is one of my biggest foes when it comes to completing daily life activities. It’s not just a mental feeling or emotion, either. It fills my muscles and soul with invisible, intangible weights. Sometimes, even breathing feels like it’s too heavy a burden. How can you get basic tasks fulfilled when you don’t even want to breathe? You don’t.

A  few common coping methods I implore are sleeping, watching TV, or playing on my phone. It’s not exactly the best set coping habits, but it gets me by. I call a “mental health day” and tell myself to take the day off. Sometimes I limit it to a few hours, max. Sometimes I do it until I feel better, or until I’m forced to get up. I’m aware that sometimes this just makes me worse off, but at the moment it feels comforting. Now that the weather’s getting nicer I’ve been trying to get outside more, even if it’s just sitting on the back porch. I bring my infant son out there at times to let him get some sunshine as well, and to introduce him to the world outside our four walls. It’s beneficial for both of us.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2017-Screen-Cloth-6x6-2.jpg

Completely free, always open, and confidential helpline for when talking is not your preferred method of contact. Text 741741.

I have an appointment for next month, but until then I’m scrambling by to try to get a refill until I can be seen again, but it’s not easy. I have to try though. I don’t want to lay down and let my disabilities run me over, trapping me into the dirt and the poverty line of life. I want more for myself and my little family. In today’s society, we can’t afford for me to not have an income. Even though I have at least two qualifying disabilities to put me out of commission, that doesn’t mean life just stops and my aspirations will fulfill themselves. It doesn’t work that way unfortunately. I’ve seen what that path looks like, and I don’t want to struggle like that. All I can do is work my butt off, go to the doctor as needed, and pray that’s enough to get me by; to let me succeed. Until then, I have to do my best, whatever that means. If my best is only getting out of bed and making sure I’ve eaten at least once that day, then that’s all I can ask for out of myself. I try to not become complacent as well, since that will just make me think it’s okay to give up and succumb to the darkness. One day at a time, one week at a time. Sometimes, it’s one second at a time, but I’m still moving forward, even if it’s just tiny steps.

Update: If you’re struggling, please reach out for help. If you’re also battling the system as well as yourself, I hope you can find relief until things can look sunny again. I was able to get my medicine refilled with the doctor that originally prescribed it to me, thankfully. I feel like I owe that man a thank you card and a fruit basket for all he’s done for me and my family. Finding good providers can be the difference between healing and diving deeper into an illness sometimes. I’ve been lucky, especially over this past year, but I know the battle’s never over. Every day I have a breath in me means another day of fighting to get better or stay better, but it’s a fight that’s always worth it, I promise you that. Thank you for reading. I hope that my words can help someone know that they aren’t alone, and that it is possible to get through the darkest days. Things do get better; you just have to be around to see it. You have to find ways to stay alive to see the sunrise after a hard, dark night.

If you or someone you know are potentially in immediate danger, please reach out to someone who can help. Don’t forget that there are helplines and texting lines that you can contact in times of crisis. If nothing else, call emergency services like 911. I’ll leave some information about a few of these resources down below. Don’t hesitate. It can save a life. Thank you.

Find more here, at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

Note: Not all suicidal people act depressed or have outward symptoms. Sometimes, they can appear to be the happiest individuals. For more information, please visit: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/

Bipolar Disorder Classifications

Welcome to this week’s Sunday post!

It has come to my attention that recently we had “World Bipolar Day” on March 30th. For anyone who is not aware, this is a day in which people are encouraged to freely speak out about the disorder, in hopes to bring awareness and find ways to support those affected by this condition. While I am not entirely new to the idea of what Bipolar Disorder is, I’d figured that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to brush up on it all. A quick Google search leads me to a few interesting things. Here’s what I’ve found….

Below is a set of infographics I stumbled upon while researching bipolar disorder. They are provided by Google, cited from various websites. Click the images below to open the gallery.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of screenshotting these images, I had to split them into pieces. Full search information at here. Please consult a doctor for medical advice. This infographic was provided by Google, cited from various sources. See more information here.

While various websites and organizations have weighed in on the topic, the general definition for Bipolar Disorder is “a disorder that is associated with episodes of mood swings, ranging from depressive lows to manic highs”. However, I feel like that doesn’t paint the full picture. People with Bipolar Disorder usually are sub-categorized into groups known as “Bipolar I”, “Bipolar II” “Bipolar III”, and “Bipolar – Uncategorized (IV & V)”, which are differentiated by Northpoint Recovery as the following:

  • Bipolar I: Manic-Depression
  • Bipolar II: Hypomania & Depression
  • Bipolar III: Cyclothymia
  • Bipolar IV: (Unspecified Subtype) Hypomania & Mania, resulting from antidepressant medication usage.
  • Bipolar V: (Unspecified Subtype) Genetic Bipolar Disorder, when a person suffers from Depression only, despite a family history of Bipolar Disorder.

In case you aren’t a mental health physician, here are some simplified definitions to be aware of. These definitions were pulled from different sources in order to try to provide a wide range of resources and reading materials associated with all symptoms. Likewise, these definitions may slightly vary in other locations. With the exception of depression, these terms can sometimes be described with the same phrases or definitions, despite being used differently, and are different with similar characteristics.

  • Mania: An abnormally elevated mood state characterized by such symptoms as inappropriate elation, increased irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased speed and/or volume of speech, disconnected and racing thoughts, increased sexual desire, markedly increased energy and activity level, poor judgment, and inappropriate social behavior.
  • Hypomania: A mood state or energy level that is elevated above normal, but not so extreme as to cause impairment — the most important characteristic distinguishing it from mania.
  • Depression: A mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.
  • Cyclothymia: Relating to or being a mood disorder characterized by alternating episodes of depression and elation in a form less severe than that of bipolar disorder.

While I know that I’m no doctor and that I cannot diagnose myself, by definition, I should be diagnosed with at least Bipolar V. Of course, you usually don’t hear about Bipolar V at all, so there is limited information available on this. If you believe you need to be evaluated, please speak with your physician or mental health counselor. Mainly, the discussion is based around Bipolar I and Bipolar II. This is what Northpoint had to say about these conditions:

The main difference between type 1 and type 2 bipolar is full manic episodes. Bipolar II patients don’t go beyond hypomania. Second, bipolar II disorder has more frequent cycling than bipolar I disorder. It also has a more chronic course than type 1. When it comes to diagnosis, it is much easier to confirm bipolar 1 than bipolar 2. This is because type 1 looks for evidence of a manic episode. Type 2 depends on identifying hypomania after emerging from a depressive state. Bipolar II patients are more likely to commit suicide than those with bipolar I disorder.

NorthpointRecovery.com

If you’d like to learn more about each subtype, the Northpoint Recovery website has a lot of good information to get started. Think of it as your Bipolar Encyclopedia for both beginners and more-seasoned readers. They also, like the name suggests, have resources available about addiction recovery as well.

As far as research goes, we can discuss facts all day, but living with the condition —like anything in the health sector— is much different than reading about it on paper (or screen). This video below describes what it’s like to live with a condition like Bipolar Disorder. As you may notice, there’s a lot more under the surface than numbers, statistics, and diagnostic symptoms. Living with a mental illness is more than just a slight inconvenience; it’s a daily struggle.

Links mentioned in this video can be found here.

While those who suffer with Bipolar and other disorders have the unfortunate job of struggling this condition, we can help support them. Raise awareness by sharing this article, or by finding ways to speak out about it’ Listen to those affected by it; Seek help if needed, for yourself or for others; Rally for better mental health care; And most of all, know that you are not alone. Have a good day everyone, from one advocate to another.

Bonus Resources: Want to read more about Bipolar Disorder? Check out these articles!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @IndieBrainer and on Pinterest as well! Links below! Let’s discuss Bipolar Disorder and anything else mental health related! I hope to hear from you soon and I’ll see you again on Wednesday.

🙂 Don’t forget to share this blog as well. Thank you for the support. 🙂

The Importance of Getting Out of the House — An Introvert’s Tale


Recently, someone close to me told me a harsh reality that sometimes I’d rather not acknowledge: I let my depression and anxiety get the best of me. Many people who suffer from these things, among others, tend to stay within their comfort zone whenever their symptoms get hard to cope with and overcome. Even people who don’t have mental health issues can have this problem too. So, if it’s that common, why bother fighting it? Even though it seems harmless to stay home whenever you feel unwell, sometimes it can have the opposite effects.

Earlier this week, I spoke about the importance of taking a break when necessary, but today I’m telling you the opposite. Why? I’ve become too comfortable with that philosophy, and it has kept me from pushing forward in life. While I still believe mental health days are critical to one’s well-being and necessary, I personally need to learn to branch off more. To say I’m (at times) socially inept is an understatement, but if I don’t try, I can’t get better. Fear of failure has driven me for too long.

While my fear of failure is a very rational one, it is not healthy. I’ve failed over and over again in life, some of which has cost me a lot. A famous phrase my mother likes to remind me of is that “Everyone makes mistakes, but try to make them small ones”. I recognize that I could have done worse, as I know some people who’ve had more serious issues than I have when it comes to failures, but that does not invalidate mine. For example, I’m technically part of Generation Y. I’m often mistaken as a millennial, and I’m right at the edge of Generation Z (aka, the “iPhone generation”). Many people in my age group have talked about this underlying feeling of running out of time. “If I don’t go to college and pass as soon as possible, then I’ll never succeed and I’ll end up living in poverty” is the basic gist of it, with some variations. And that fear is very much alive in me. Or, at least it was.

Image courtesy: http://theconversation.com/with-teen-mental-health-deteriorating-over-five-years-theres-a-likely-culprit-86996

As the age of 23 approaches closer, this feeling sometimes does still loom over me, but I try not to let it. It has taken me a long time to get to this place. Mainly, dropping out of college and spiraling down into the worst depression I have ever experienced. Honestly, I have no idea how I survived as long as I did before being able to get help. When I stopped going to school, I fell out, hard. I felt like I had screwed up my life with that single action. I never wanted things to be that way, but it was beyond my control. At the time, I felt a lot of guilt and shame, as if I could’ve just pretended my depression didn’t exist and as if I could’ve just tried a little harder. In reality, I tried as hard as I possibly could.

I bring all of this up because I feel like that’s where this “give yourself a break, stay in your comfort zone” philosophy stemmed from. And while this method has helped me, it has also harmed me. It has put strain on familial and romantic relationships. It has put stress and remorse and shame on myself, which has, in turn, harvested a very low self-esteem problem that I’m still trying to come to grips with. Currently, I have returned to school and am doing very well there, but that doesn’t mean the battle is over just yet. Frequently, I struggle to find motivation to get things done or leave the house. Financially, I need a job, but prior experiences have caused me to question my ability to hold one. I don’t like leaving the house by myself either, especially at night. However, that one is more of a general safety concern.

I try to remind myself not to get too comfortable within my own home. I’m riding a wave of good moods and motivated moments, but by the end of the week that will most likely flip on me. Hiding in my room, behind a phone, TV, or computer screen isn’t going to help me get better. Yesterday, I left the house by myself for the first time in a while. At first, I did not want to do so, but I didn’t have a choice. During the ride, I listened to music; something I don’t do enough of. On the way home, I felt better than when I left. I felt almost liberated. Am I ready to do this on a daily basis? No, probably not. But it’s now or never, so I’m going to push myself a little more.

Image courtesy: https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/guest-post-ms-kepners-teen-storytelling-class/

Today, I decided to bring my computer out to the back patio and sit in the late-March Florida sunshine. The wind blows every now and then, but overall, it’s a beautiful day. There’s fresh air, birds are chirping nearby, and I’m getting more “sunny-D” than I have in a long time. These little steps will hopefully help me catapult into bigger ones, and maybe into a better me. It definitely beats sitting on my bed in the dark.

Finally, I leave you all with this: 27 Fun Ideas to Prevent You From Becoming a Hermit. From someone who, (like me), stays at home a lot, “Ali The Happy VA” shares some good tips for anyone trying to get out of their own personal funk, no matter the reason behind it. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage to take on some of these tasks myself, or make up my own. After all, as of this post it’s becoming more often sunny outside and Spring is blooming (no pun intended).

I hope I’ve inspired you to push yourself and find little wins, too. Have a bright, happy day. Follow me on Twitter @IndieBrainer to join the conversation, and on Pinterest to see cool new posts you won’t see on my other pages!

☀️Don’t forget to share!☀️

Posting Schedule Update: Currently, I’ve been posting about once a week on Sundays. My goal is to make that twice a week, one posting on Sundays and one on Wednesdays. This post was supposed to be out yesterday, but life happened 😅. I’m currently beginning to compile posts so that delays like this don’t happen. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again!

IndieBrainer Social Media

Hello again! I just wanted to share a quick update on where you can find more IndieBrainer content!

Let’s start with the newest one: Pinterest! Here you will find a large amount of content to scroll through. This mainly includes sharing content of similar creators and bloggers in order to sum up the current trends and spread information. In the future, I will probably be pulling a lot of my links and infographics from here, so stay tuned!

IndieBrainer / bringmetheraindrops

As you may already know, I’m on Twitter. This is the best way to reach out to me at the moment. Here, I post the most relevant links when it comes to mental health, psychology, and brain news. This may include re-Tweets and original content as well. Let’s have a discussion! @IndieBrainer

Have other social media sites I should check out? Let me know! Know someone I should follow? Hit me up? Let’s gather as much content in one place as we can to build an unofficial “brainer” encyclopedia of knowledge, news, and stories!

-Courtney.

Self Care Sunday and Forgiving Yourself

Today, I will be (try to) brief and get straight to the point. I won’t lie, I might sound all jumbled. I myself am having trouble concentrating today, but I wanted to bring you guys something. It’s been a rough week for me, and although I’m working on my personal and educational projects today, I need to acknowledge the importance of taking a break when necessary and giving yourself some extra TLC.

Today is #SelfCareSunday. Today, I want you to look at what’s happening with you, right now. I want you to ask yourself the question “Am I okay?”. If you find yourself a little (or a lot) stressed out lately, then make sure to give yourself some time for extra self care. Do you feel bad that you forgot to respond to that email or left someone on read? Are you having trouble getting through the day without struggling with anxiety or guilt? I want you to try to relax, and forgive yourself. You’re doing your best, even if that means something different for you.

Bob Ross, a man who personally inspires me to keep going, even if I mess up.

Story time: One thing I will talk about in more detail in a future post is that I am a college dropout. This is something that has haunted me for the last several years. Like many people, I try to not go through life with regrets, but this is one I tend to beat myself up for. I suffer from anxiety and depression. This caused me to lose motivation to do my assignments, and I fell behind, hard. As a self-titled “overachiever”, this only worsened my issues. When I officially ended my enrollment, I felt horrible about it. I had thoughts such as “I could’ve done better. I didn’t do my best”. My problem was that I confused what I could physically accomplish with what I could mentally accomplish. Yes, I technically could walk to my laptop, sit down, and type words and read articles. But mentally, I couldn’t pull myself to move. I couldn’t find the energy to fight. My muscles and soul felt as heavy as bricks. I was drowning, even though physically I should have been able to. This caused years of thinking I had screwed up my life.

Of course, at age 20-ish, everything felt like a big deal. As a Generation Y emerging adult (not millennial, officially), I felt like my life was on a deadline, and if I fell behind, I would be forever doomed. Talking to my peers, they felt it too. So dropping out of college felt like I fell off a cliff. What was below, was despair and self-hate.

Eventually, I came across something someone said online. The wording wasn’t as memorable, but it essentially said that even though you aren’t doing as much as other people, that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing your best. Everyone’s best is different, and you shouldn’t hold yourself to a higher standard than what you can handle. When I heard this, it was like a switch went off in my head. Suddenly, years of guilt that I could’ve tried harder turned into understanding and took me to the path of self forgiveness. People tend to forget this part when it comes to self care. It’s not just a physical action (like showering) or a mental one (like relaxing via recreational hobbies or meditation), ― it’s also about finding peace with yourself.

“I walked out of my Crossfit box the other day sobbing.” At Barbell Asana, Crossfitter and yoga teacher Erica Varlese writes about taking a break from Crossfit so her body can retrain and heal.

Knowing When to Rest — Discover

On another note, I came across this article today and I think it could be very inspirational. To anyone who has ever needed a break to step back, reevaluate, and recover, this is for you. Sometimes, we all just need to remember to look at the wider picture and sit back for a while, whether that be a day or a decade. (Of course, let’s hope it’s not a decade long process). People love come-back stories because it’s all about renewal and redemption. It’s about coming back fresh; both being the same person you were, and also simultaneously a new person with peace, perspective, and wisdom. It can take a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual form. You never know where the path will take you, but when done right, it can make a world of difference (for the better).

Take time to yourself today, and whenever you need it. It’s important to your health and well-being. Breathe. Meditate. Sleep in. Hit pause on the chores. Eat that slice of soul-food cake if it helps. Just remember to do it all in moderation. Taking one day off to watch TV is okay. But allowing yourself to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms can make things worse. Today for this #SelfCareSunday make sure to keep a balance of the good and the indulgent. However, more than anything, don’t feel bad for taking a much needed day off. It’s important. Don’t let anyone, or yourself, shame you for being the person you need to be. With that, happy #SelfCareSunday.

Join the conversation with me on Twitter @IndieBrainer, or use the #SelfCareSunday and #ForgiveYourself hashtags. Share your story. I look forward to seeing you there!

-Courtney.

Nowadays, I usually self care by watching TV or spending time with my son and boyfriend. Even though I’m not a social butterfly, they are some of the few people I couldn’t live without. But of course, who couldn’t love those faces?

Note: Feel free to share this article on social media or with friends. I will be updating my blog format soon to add new features, such as a new tabs and links. Right now, my blogs are weekly updated with a more frequent schedule on the horizon.

Have a good day! 😊🤗💓🙌🧠📣🙂⚕️

Welcome to my mind!

Hello! My name is Courtney, (aka “IndieBrainer”, aka “bringmetheraindrops”). This blog is the first step into my mind when it comes to all things mental health, neuroscience, or psychology related. To anyone reading this, I’m here to give you information on new psychology practices, share mental health self-care tips, explain new research findings about brains, and just generally discuss mental conditions and the things people who suffer from them go through. Let’s say it’s part educational, part therapeutic.

If you need any mental health aid, I will be adding a whole new page to my blog about that soon enough. Feel free to share this information or check out any of those helplines or online resources. If you have something to add, tweet me @IndieBrainer or contact me via email at bringmetheraindrops@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

The main goal here is to simply start a conversation and spread information to those who need it, or find support. Whether you are an advocate like me, a student wishing to learn more about mental health-related topics, or you or someone you know suffer from mental illness, you can find a voice here. Maybe together, we can help eliminate stigma and explore better ways to find relief.

-Courtney.

You are not alone. The world wouldn’t be the same without you. Keep fighting.

.